Letters To Lee Remmel

Lee, when did the Packers Women’s Association (PWA) form and begin their charitable work? Thanks! - Bobbie Jo, Waukesha, Wis. Dear BobbieJo: There is no specific answer to this question for the simple reason that the Packers organization has been unofficially involved in the community for as long as most people can remember, supporting and, in some cases, conducting charitable endeavors. It thus would be difficult to come up with a "beginning" date.


When did the Packers Women's Association (PWA) form and begin their charitable work? Thanks! - BobbieJo, Waukesha, Wis.

Dear BobbieJo: There is no specific answer to this question for the simple reason that the Packers organization has been unofficially involved in the community for as long as most people can remember, supporting and, in some cases, conducting charitable endeavors. It thus would be difficult to come up with a "beginning" date.

For the official answer, however, I refer you to Sherry Schuldes, our manager of family programs, who reports, "The Green Bay Packers officially created a community relations department in 1992 when Mark Schiefelbein, now director of administrative affairs, was hired back from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"When I started the family programs department in 1996, I took over the community relations from Linda McCrossin," Schuldes said. "The Packers already had a strong commitment to the community. And donations were being sent to charities within the state of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan."

In this connection, Sherry noted that the Packers Women's Association (PWA) Food Drive for Paul's Pantry celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006. Prior to 1996 the annual food drive was known as "the wives' food drive."

"When I organized the PWA, the women became more involved in the community from that point on," Schuldes said.

On another, related subject, Schuldes observed, "If you visit St. Vincent Hospital and look at their ceiling tiles you will notice many of them are decorated (mainly in the pediatric department and some of the recovery rooms). The PWA actually started that program and it was called 'PaintFest.'

"In the fall of 2000, we (the PWA) teamed up with St. Vincent Hospital and the Foundation for Hospital Art to brighten the days of patients who have to stay in the hospital. We did it in two phases - one phase was done at the hospital with the pediatric and rehab patients. And then we did the second phase in the concourse with past St. V's patients.

"Patients actually painted the ceiling tiles and then once dried, they replaced the existing tiles with those that had fun designs, florals, animals, etc. St. Vincent continues that tradition today, with current patients painting the ceiling tiles. It has made the hospital very colorful and gives the kids something to look at when they're having procedures done."

Click here for more information about the Packers Women's Association (PWA).

When I was a kid, I remember seeing a guy on the sidelines dressed like a butcher. Was he a mascot for the Packers? What happened to the concept of a mascot? Most teams seem to have one. - Mary, Madison, Wis.

Dear Mary: The Packers did indeed have a "butcher" mascot for a time - at least someone who donned a butcher's apron for appearances at home games while having a string of "sausages" draped over a shoulder. At the time, National Football League Properties, Inc., then the league's promotional arm, had the responsibility of coming up with a creative representation of each team and its heritage, and the "butcher" was the Packers' identification It did not, however, "catch on" with Packers fans and eventually the entire program was dropped by the league.

Just for the record, a young man named Bruce Manderscheid, a salesman by profession and then living in Green Bay, was the individual who dressed as the Packers' "butcher" while the program was in effect.

You are correct, of course, in noting that the Packers do not have an official mascot. The organization does, however, utilize cheerleaders from St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay at home games.

Lee, why has one end of Lambeau Field always been left open? I was thinking that they would have built skyboxes when renovating. - Daryl, Milwaukee, Wis.

Dear Daryl: The answer to this question comes from our Chairman, Bob Harlan, who has been involved in overseeing every stadium expansion in the past 35 years.

In addressing the latest addition, he noted, "We initially were looking at a seating capacity of 70,000. We thought 70,000 was the perfect number. We just didn't want the seating capacity to get too big. But, eventually, for a variety of reasons, we came out of the 2000-2003 renovation with 72,600 seats, and we since have found we can live comfortably with that."

With respect to the "open end" and deciding not to add more boxes in that area, Harlan pointed out, "This gives us a lot of options -- adding club seats, private boxes, bowl seats, or a stadium club. Or do a combination of all of them -- club seats, private boxes, bowl seats, and a stadium club."

Having said that, Harlan nevertheless acknowledged, "You talk to teams with bigger stadium capacity these days and they all wish they had about 65,000....It's a very popular number in the league right now."

Lee, I recently read an article concerning the alleged lack of relationship between a current NFL coach and his quarterback. The article described the coach's viewpoint, saying, "He used Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi as an example of a quarterback-coach relationship that wasn't close, yet still worked." In your opinion, how close were Starr and Lombardi? Thank you very much. - Bill, Baton Rouge, La.

Dear Bill: It would appear that the presumed "authority" on the Lombardi-Starr relationship quoted above was significantly off-target, based on the recollections of Gary Knafelc, a teammate and one of Starr's receivers for seven seasons (1956-62) under Lombardi.

"I thought it (Starr's relationship with Lombardi) was probably closer than any other relationship on the team," Knafelc said. "I say that in part because of all the quarterback meetings they were thrown together for, alone.

"I know the Coach talked to Paul Hornung some, but not as much as he did to Bart. I would say he spent more time with Bart than anybody else."

On another, related subject -- the quality of that relationship -- former Starr teammate Jim Temp was asked if it would be appropriate to term it one of "mutual respect." He promptly rejoined, "Definitely...beyond a doubt."

Lee, as one of the global Packerbackers, could you tell me if an Englishman has ever been on the roster at Green Bay? Many thanks. - Bruce, Sittingbourne, UK

Dear Bruce: As far as I have been able to determine, the Packers have not ever had an "Englishman" on their roster. We did have two Japanese players play for us against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tokyo in a 1998 preseason game. And, more recently, had an Australian punter, Nathan Chapman, on the roster during the preseason of 2004.

Too many Packer legends have passed away while still relatively young. My personal favorite was No. 66 Ray Nitschke. Do you have a favorite story about Ray? Thank you! - John, Fort Myers, Fla.

Dear John: Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have "a favorite story about Ray." It is one he told to me while I was in the process of writing an in-depth story about him for a newspaper during his playing days.

Coming out of high school in Chicago, he was a quarterback on offense and openly delighted in playing the position. However, when he subsequently was recruited to the University of Illinois, then-Head Coach Ray Eliot informed him that he would be playing fullback on offense, not quarterback, (and linebacker on defense) for the Illini. And intimidating Ray said he was so disappointed, "I broke down and cried."

Mr. Remmel, did the Packers' first uniform colors come from Curly Lambeau's alma mater, Notre Dame? When was the first time the Packers wore green instead of blue? Why did Lombardi ultimately make the decision to change their colors to the hunter green and yellow that they still use today? - Joe, Columbus, Ohio

Dear Joe: The Packers' original uniform in 1921-22, when they launched their tenure in what became the National Football League, featured a plain, gold jersey with nine thin navy blue stripes on each sleeve, gold leggings and dark gold pants.

Lambeau presumably brought the blue and gold colors with him from Notre Dame, where he was the starting fullback in his freshman (and only) season at South Bend in 1918.

Gene Ronzani, the second head coach in Packers history, is credited with "solidifying" green into the uniform color scheme, something he introduced in taking over the team in 1950. He did so, saying, "We are the Green Bay Packers," emphasizing the color green. The Ronzani-style uniform included old gold shirts with green numerals and green pants with bright gold stripes. The Packers, however, still used the leather helmet.

(It should be explained that green previously was used peripherally in the Packers' uniform but never was a major team color until 1950.)

With respect to your final question, Joe, I have not heard Lombardi's explanation for adopting the "hunter green and yellow" color scheme you mention in your question.

Click here to learn more about the Packers' uniform history.

I grew up in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and am a life-long Packer fan, even though I have lived in Oregon for 42 years. Back in the 1930s and '40s, Chippewa Falls had a semi-pro football team called the Chippewa Marines. I have heard that the Marines played the Packers in an exhibition game around Labor Day in the mid 1930s in Chippewa Falls. Could you confirm that this game was played? Thank you. - Pete, Corvallis, Ore.

Dear Peter: Your "hearing" is impeccable. The Chippewa Falls Marines hosted the Packers in a preseason game on Sept. 2, 1935 (Don Hutson's rookie year, incidentally). There were 6,000 fans in attendance, the Packers' largest crowd of the preseason.

Unfortunately for the Marines, the Packers walked off with a 22-0 shutout triumph. The Marines had nothing to be ashamed of, however. The Packers won all four of their preseason games that '35 season by shutouts. They defeated the Merrill Fromm Foxes in their opener, 33-0, followed with that blanking of the Chippewa Falls Marines, then shut out Stevens Point, 40-0, before closing out their non-league agenda with a 49-0 conquest of the LaCrosse Old Style Lagers.

How did Johnny "Blood" McNally get the "Blood" part in his name? Was it his real name? - Kenny, Glen Mills, Pa.

Dear Kenny: "Blood" was not Johnny Blood's "real name." His legal name was John Victor McNally and he was the offspring of a wealthy and prominent family in New Richmond, Wis., where he grew up.

He acquired the "Blood" part of his name by chance. While in college, he and a football teammate decided they would accept an offer to play a game with the Duluth Eskimos of the professional NFL under assumed names, thus risking their collegiate eligibility if it was found out.

Accordingly, they selected their names off a Duluth theater marquee, advertising the epic, "Blood and Sand." Blood obviously chose the more colorful name, leaving his buddy with "Sand."

Was Bobby Mann the first African-American to play for the Packers? - Fred, State College, Pa.

Dear Fred: Yes, Bob Mann was the first African-American to play in a regular season game for the Packers. The former University of Michigan All-American did so in 1950.

We often hear that receivers on the end of a Favre "bullet" often have had fingers broken as a result of a catch. Have defenders ever reported broken fingers as a result of an intercepted Favre pass? - Gail, El Centro, Calif.

Dear Gail: I have not been able to authenticate any reports of a Favre missile having been responsible for a receiver or a defender suffering a broken finger. However, Bryan Engel, our assistant trainer, does recall linebacker Seth Joyner having seen a Favre projectile "go through his face mask and hit him on the bridge of his nose." That was in 1997.

{sportsad300}When Vince Lombardi went to the Washington Redskins, did any Packers players come with him? - Mike, Brookfield, Wis.

Dear Mike: Lombardi did take at least one of his former Packers players, flanker Bob Long, with him to Washington. It should be pointed out, of course, that most of his Packers players were getting a little long in the tooth in 1969, the year Vince took over the Redskins, following 10 years in Green Bay.

Vince also did re-hire Bill Austin as an assistant coach. Austin previously had been his offensive line coach for six years (1959-64) in Green Bay before Bill became head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for three years (1965-67).

I have read that Curly Lambeau left or was forced out of Green Bay on unfriendly terms and that Green Bay waited to name Lambeau Field until after Curly's passing. Is any of that true? If so, what happened? - Daryl, Milwaukee, Wis.

Dear Daryl: "Unfriendly terms" would be an accurate description of Curly's relationship with the Packers Board of Directors at the time of his departure from Green Bay, following the 1949 season. But I don't know that it can be safely said that he was "forced out" of the Packers organization. As far as I can determine, he was something of a persona non grata around the organization when he left, but apparently left Green Bay of his own volition to become vice president, head coach and general manager of the then-Chicago Cardinals.

As far as the naming of the stadium is concerned, Curly died June 1, 1965, and City Stadium's name was formally changed to Lambeau Field by the Stadium Commission Sept. 11, 1965, approximately 2 1/2 months following Curly's passing.

Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former *Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for Packers.com as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here. *

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